Summary vs Formal Probate Administration: Requirements and Qualifications

Handling the estate of a loved one who’s passed away can be an emotional and all-consuming process. It can also be lengthy and complicated, which is why probate attorneys like Kathy D. Sheive are here to help you through the process. If you’re the personal representative of someone’s estate, understanding probate options ensures the process is as smooth as possible. There are two primary types of probate: Formal and Summary Administration. Only certain types of estates qualify for each type of administration. Learn more about these types of probate and the requirements to file for each one below. 

Formal Administration

Formal Administration is the most common type of probate. It’s best suited for large estates that have multiple creditors and beneficiaries. Formal Administration can take at least six months and up to a year to complete, depending on the complexity of the estate. During this time, the decedent’s (the person who passed away) will is validated, creditors make claims on the estate for any debts owed, and assets are distributed to beneficiaries. 

Qualifying for Formal Administration

The only requirement for Formal Administration is that the estate is worth at least $75,000 and has probatable assets. 

 Applying for Formal Administration 

Here’s a summary of how Formal Administration works: 

 Petition of Administration 

You will bring relevant documents (such as the decedent’s will and a death certificate) to a probate attorney. These documents, along with a Petition of Administration, will be filed with the probate court in the county where the decedent lived.

Validate the Will

 A probate judge will determine the will’s validity. Then, you’ll be given legal authority to execute it.  

Notify Beneficiaries and Creditors 

You’re responsible for notifying potential creditors and listed beneficiaries that the estate has entered probate. Creditors have 90 days after receiving this notification to make a claim against the estate. 

Value the Estate

The decedent’s assets are gathered and valued during the creditor claim period. Money from the sale of assets is deposited into an estate bank account. Any outstanding creditor claims are paid from this account.

Asset Distribution & Conclusion

Once the estate is valued and creditors have been paid, probate will formally close, and beneficiaries will receive the remaining assets according to the will. 

Summary Administration 

Summary Administration is a simplified version of Formal Administration for smaller estates. Summary Administration is shorter and less expensive than formal probate, taking two to six months to complete.

Qualifying for Summary Administration

An estate may be eligible for Summary Administration if it meets any of the following conditions, as stated in Florida Statute 735.021:

  • The estate is valued at less than $75,000 (minus exempt assets and property).
  • The decedent passed away more than two years ago.
  • Creditors are barred from making claims against the estate. 
  • There are no valid creditor claims on the estate.
  • The decedent’s only assets are exempt from creditor claims.

 How to Apply for Summary Administration

Here are the steps to apply for Summary Administration:

Eligibility & Filing

You can petition for Summary Administration with the probate court at any stage of the probate process once the estate qualifies.

Creditor Search & Disclosure 

You must certify that you have made a reasonable effort to search for creditors and have found no one who could make a valid claim on the estate. You would then sign an affidavit affirming that there are no reasonable creditors.

Asset Distribution 

Once the affidavit is signed, a probate judge will grant the Summary Administration order. This order can then be taken to relevant institutions such as banks, insurance companies, and mortgage brokers to distribute the assets directly to the beneficiaries listed in the will. 

Navigate Probate with Kathy D. Sheive 

Understanding your options regarding probate proceedings can help you save time and money. If you’re a personal representative or managing someone’s estate on their behalf, we can help you navigate the process. Call our team at 407-315-2268 to discuss how we can assist you.

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